Morena, the political party of Mexican president López Obrador, submitted a bill on February 8th calling for fines of up to $4.4 million USD against social media companies for violating users’ right to free speech. The law would apply only to platforms with over one million users in Mexico, which covers Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube.
If the legislation passes, Mexico will join Poland in initiating a state-sponsored attack on Silicon Valley censorship.
Currently, Morena controls 50% of the Mexican Senate and 55% of the Mexican Chamber of Deputies. So Morena controls Mexico in the same way the Democrats currently control the USA.
Mexican Senator Ricardo Monreal says the Senate could vote on the law in three weeks. If it passes, social media companies with over one million Mexican users would have to register with the Federal Telecommunications Institute [IFT]. Then they would have to allow Mexican users to appeal bans. The social media companies would have 24 hours to respond to these appeals. If the user’s account is not re-instated, they could go to Mexico’s telecom regulators, and the courts could impose fines against social media companies.
The caveat is that under the USMCA, which is the new revised version of NAFTA negotiated by the Trump administration, Mexico is not allowed to take against American Internet companies. However, this provision does not go into effect until late 2023. So the Morena party still has a window in which they can try to force US social media companies to behave.
This has specifically come about because of Twitter engaging in mass bans. For example, in the USA, Twitter recently claimed it banned over 70,000 accounts associated with the so-called “Qanon” conspiracy movement. Monreal wants to force social media companies to use real people, conducting real reviews of individual accounts as opposed to simply using an AI to mass ban accounts. Twitter only became profitable in 2019 after dramatically reducing the number of paid employees. The company relies on AI automation to make money.